Benjamin Franklin was considered by many as the least orthodox among the founders of our nation. Here is an episode about him that is little known except for a few scholars.

The convention was to revise the "Articles of Confederation" (1777), which was failing with too much power to the states and not enough to the central government. It was May- June 1778, Convention Hall in Philadelphia, and the heat was intolerable, the flies and mosquitoes relentless, and the proceedings were fruitless. Tempers were flaring.

On June 28, 1787 the elderly Franklin rose to his feet and made the following speech:

Mr. President:

The small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance {Prior to that was sparse attendance, not even enough for a quorum} & continual reasonings with each other-our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ayes, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding.

We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of Government, and examined the different forms of those Republics, which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all around Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understanding?

In the beginning of the Contest with G {reat} Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had our daily prayer in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in this struggle must have observed frequent instances of Superintending Providence in our favor.

To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without His aid?

We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that "except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builder of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests: our projects will be confounded: and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages.

And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leaves it to chance, war, and conquest.

I therefore beg to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service. (1)

New Jersey delegate Jonathan Dayton described the effect:

The Doctor sat down; and never did I behold a countenance at once so dignified and delighted as was that of Washington at the close of the address; nor were the members of the convention generally less affected. The words of the venerable Franklin fell upon our ears with a weight and authority, even greater than we may suppose an oracle to have had on the Roman senate! (2)

Roger Sherman of Connecticut seconded the motion (he was a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) but the motion was not passed because THEY HAD NOTHING IN THE TREASURY!

They agreed on an alternative plan that accepted the spirit and gist of Franklin's proposal provided by Edmund Jennings Randolph of Virginia:

1) A sermon be preached at the official request of the Convention

The next week on the Fourth of July to mark the anniversary of Independence, and

2) Prayers be said in the Convention every morning (3)

On the Fourth of July the entire convention attended a special service in the Reformed Calvinistic Lutheran Church, where they heard a sermon by Rev. William Rogers, wherein he prayed:

We fervently recommend to the Fatherly notice....our federal convention.....Favor them, from day to day, with thy inspiring presence; be their wisdom and strength; enable them to devise such measures as may prove happy instruments in healing all divisions and prove the good of the great whole; that the United States of America may form one example of a free and virtuous government.....May we continue, under the influence of republican virtue, to partake in the blessings of cultivated and Christian society, (4)

Where was the "Separation of church and state? What a bending of the original meanings. There are those who think that Christians are "Wusses!"

Well, here is one whose fathers fought in the revolution I can tell you that the legions of all of those lying liberal, socialistic, progressive, Marxist, college professors, or whatever name they slither behind, who have corrupted millions of our young minds, and bury and distort truths like these will be roasting in Hell for an extended time ---- and I will send them charcoal!

1. Benjamin Franklin, in William J. Federer, America's God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations (St. Louis MO: Amerisearch, 2000)

2. Ibid, Jonathan Dayton, 249

3. Edmond Jennings Randolph, in Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention My to September 1787 (Boston: An Atlantic Monthly Press Book, div, Little, Brown and Company, 1966/1986

4. William J. Federer, America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations (St. Louis, MO: Amerisearch, 2000

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